Going fishing in the winter can be an exercise in futility. It's the only time of year we get skunked and I'm ashamed to say I haven't got the magic-bullet to solve this problem. I'm fairly convinced there are days when the fish don't bite because they don't need to and the conditions are just too uncomfortable for them.
That said, this last trip to the Llano river was an exception to the winter time rule. It wasn't a *great* day as in crazy good, but it was a good fishing day with several fish caught - enough to where as I sit here, I can't quite remember how many. That's a good fishing day in my book. :)
The day started out really slow...
Robinson Park in Llano has a pretty nice section of the Llano river that lays nearby. There is a dam there that retains a pretty good chunk of lake. Several parts of the lake are over 8ft deep which means there is a propensity for large bass if you can find them. The first few times we went to this "retaining pond" we had issues finding any bass so here's hoping I can describe it well enough to help you skip to the best part: Catching fish.
This lake is pretty good sized. The lake extends from east at the dam, to the west end where the river enters. The north side of the lake is fairly shallow with the maximum depth being 4-5 feet in the deepest holes but mostly only 1-3 feet on average. The south side of the lake nearest the park is the deepest side of the lake with depths reaching at least 8ft. There are huge rocks in certain areas that create monster holes between the rocks. This can create some hidey-holes for large bass if you can get their attention but there are so many it is some times a real challenge.
Other than the rocky section, much of the lake is covered with sand. Lots of sand is pretty typical for river retaining ponds on the Llano which is why they have to dig them out every so often since they'll fill up completely with sand. In this case, the sand makes for some really interesting lake topology and really helps to give a diverse environment. Down the middle of the lake there is a half-mile sand bar that nearly bisects the lake into two separate parts. In fact, it's this sand bar that creates two separate worlds when it comes to fishing because much of the north shore becomes a closed cove - the river doesn't flow into this side 99% of the time.
During the winter months, the shallow north shore is the most obvious place to fish on a sunny day because the water is warmer and less disturbed by wind. Also at this time of year the weed population is much lower which allows more use of underwater lures such as jerkbaits or shallow crankbaits. Because of the natural cover and protection from the wind, the north shore is a breeding ground for bait fish. There is also a population of carp and catfish that frequent this area. You'll find that the north shore is almost always more murky than the south shore except during flood times - then the north shore is clearer. During the winter there are times when the water in the main lake is so clear that on a calm day you'll feel like you are paddling on air, 8ft off the bottom.
For summer months, you'll need to focus more on the deeper waters during the day. The areas where the river feeds into the lake can also be a good area since the water is cooler and better oxygenated. But don't get too close to the current. The larger fish tend to stay deep and mid-way down the lake, while the Guadalupe Bass tend to stay closer to the strong current. The guads are not super proficient in the main lake as I haven't caught any much past the area where the current ends.
Spring and Fall are the best times on this small lake. This is mainly because the fish congregate most in the same areas and don't move much. Once you find the fish, you're good to stay pretty close by because they'll stay in those areas. Of course, the usual wind rules apply unless you're in a cove: Follow the wind to the side of the lake it's blowing on and you'll find the most fish. But generally during these moderate months you'll still find the most fish in the deeper holes in the coves.
For those of you who insist on going fishing in 100 degree heat or in 40 degrees or less, you'll find that these extremes have one result on the fish: They all head for the deep water. I will be honest and say that I usually get skunked at these times because I'm not very good at finding them when they are hiding. But generally in both of these weather events, the fish will head to the coves in the evening because, guess what: That's where the bait stays.
The Fishing Report:
Our trip this time pretty much followed the rules. Even though we started the day out at 1pm, the wind was blowing and it wasn't very warm yet. So, though we went straight for the deepest cove, we weren't finding fish very well. I caught a couple fish on a Rapala suspending Jerk Bait, and Sarah actually managed to catch a couple on a buzz bait. But the fish were pretty slow until late in the day as the cove warmed up. After 4pm the wind really started slowing down and the water started to calm significantly. That's when the coves really started to light up.
We started to really start catching fish way back in the coves in less than 2 feet of water. This is typical of what we have seen in this area. Any where you find a creek or what appears to be a shallow extended cove - follow it back looking for the deeper spots. It's amazing how many fish we've caught that were relatively sizable that were sitting in a foot of water because they were hunting bait. In fact, the back area on the north shore is one of those places where we often see the fish coming before it hits the lure because you can see the water disturbance caused by the fish chasing and being in shallow water. By the time the sun set we had moved out of the smaller coves into the main cove and then along the north bank until it was too dark to cast anything but a frog.
So this trip we never made it to the south shore where the current comes in mainly because the water is usually cooler over there and partly because we didn't get started till 1pm. If we spend a whole day on the water we'll often run up the north shore, then head over to the rapids and then back down the south shore to end the day. Some times we'll head back over to the north shore coves for the evening run since that's where the fish usually end up on a hot day. Of course, during the summer the current and the oxygenated water is attractive to the fish so we'll stay near that if they are biting.
I hope this helps you understand this little body of water. You should be able to gauge the time of year and weather and determine what area should produce the best.
Tight Lines Y'all!